GOSHEN — Gracie Tucker's summer of hard work paid off in the first girls golf invitational of the season Monday.
The Concord junior and Mishawaka Marian's Rosa Tripple both shot an 85 at the Goshen Invitational Monday at Black Squirrel Golf Club, forcing a tiebreaker to determine who would be the individual medalist. Both Tucker and Tripple re-played the first hole to start the tiebreaker.
After both reached the green in two shots, Tripple three-putted to bogey. This opened the door for Tucker, who two-putted her way to top individual honors at the event. It also sealed a sweep for Concord, as the Minutemen won team honors as well with a score of 375.
"Not only has (Tucker) taken lessons regularly this summer, she's also played in tournaments this summer. And, she plays every day on her own," Concord coach Tara Boessler said. "So, it's really nice when hard work comes together on a golf course and it pays off for her. We're super excited for her."
Boessler almost jumped into Tucker's arms when she was walking off the first green following her victory.
"Gracie's emotions are pretty even all the time, so whether she's happy or sad you see the same emotion with her," Boessler said. "I got overexcited because I wanted to see if she was really overexcited."
Concord enters the season with some of its highest expectations in years. The Minutemen were an honorable mention in the IHSGCA's preseason top 20 poll, one of five schools to be listed just outside the top 20. Managing those expectations will be a new challenge for the Concord program.
"Yes, it's fun, it's entertaining and exciting, but I don't want them focused on that," Boessler said. "I want them focused on their game and seeing how much they can improve during the season."
Fairfield had a good start to its season, finishing third with a team score of 414. Senior Jalee Nunemaker placed tied for sixth with a 92 and Hannah Dervin also broke 100, shooting 99.
It's the third year at the helm for Falcon coach Brent Nunemaker. Fairfield only graduates one senior from their team a season ago, giving the Falcons a lot of returning varsity experience.
"That's comforting to a coach, knowing you have girls coming back that have varsity experience and have played the 18-hole invitationals," Brent said. "That's huge for a golf program; show the younger kids sort of how it works and goes and the work you have to put in to have a good season."
Lakeland had a strong performance from returning All-Northeast Corner Conference player Madison Keil, who finished fourth overall with an 88. The rest of the Lakers struggled, however, as the next best performer for Lakeland scored 117.
Coach Cassidy Roush cited the short game as an area to improve on early in the season.
"One hundred in," said Roush, talking about shots 100 yards or less from the hole. "Their drives, they're bombing it. They're hitting the ball well. It's just that short game ... it's one of the hardest shots to get that shot, get it on the green and get it in regulation. That's where we've struggled the most."
The host Goshen RedHawks finished one shot behind Lakeland with a 443. McKenna Cripe had the low score for Goshen with 107, but it was the play of freshman Maya Narayan that stood out to coach Jenna Pecenka. Narayan scored 114 on the Black Squirrel course.
"In the practice rounds we played, she was the second-best scorer out of all 10 girls that are on the team. So, she is definitely going to be getting into our lineup a lot," Pecenka said. "This was her first 18 holes she's ever played ... she has some improvement to go and I think she was just very nervous."
Austin Hough can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN
GOSHEN INVITATIONAL — RESULTS
1. Concord 375 — Gracie Tucker 85 (T-1st; won tiebreaker to win individual medalist), Lauren Boessler 92 (T-6th), Evelyn Theinart 93 (8th), Gabby Sponseller 105, Rayna Boessler 110
2. Mishawaka Marian 401 — Rosa Tripple 85 (T-1st; lost tiebreaker to finish second overall), Ariana Kujawski 91 (5th), Alivia Weisser 102, Madison Hahn 123, May Weston 125
3. Fairfield 414 — Jalee Nunemaker 92 (T-6th), Hannah Dervin 99, Trinity Ruiz 106, Chloe Dell 117, Ashlynn Yoder 136
4. Elkhart Memorial 419 — Courtney King 86 (3rd), Lily Ball 95 (8th), Morgan Kast 116, Mady Axsom 122, Brooklyn Jensen 125
5. Lakeland 442 — Madison Keil 88 (4th), Kylee Watkins 117, Tatum Retterbush 117, Sadie Edsal 120, Amelia Trump 136
6. Goshen 443 — McKenna Cripe 107, Estella Borden 109, Lauren Murphy 113, Maya Narayan 114, Jenna VanderWey 124
7. Elkhart Central 479 — Brooke Watson 93 (7th), Katie Frasier 113, Alexia Cormer 136, Grace Robinson 137
8. Mishawaka 485 — Grace Venderburg 111, Joszlyn Thompson 116, Liv Stamm 129, Claire Braniff 129, Sabrina Line 141